Once again, another sterling, profanity-fueled nugget of wisdom from Chuck Wendig:
Short answer: he doesn’t answer the question. Why? Well, you can read for yourself to learn why, but if you must know NOW, Chuck’s post is a rant against the prevalence of “writers” attending writer’s conferences solely for the fact of learning how to get an agent and get your work published. So what’s the problem, then? The problem is these questions are being asked by “writers” who haven’t even finished, or can’t even be bothered, to complete a manuscript. Questions about the end result, rather than questions on how to improve your craft.
I think of this as putting the cart before the horse.
I touched upon this a few blogs ago. I’m focused right now on finishing the product. I’m not at the point yet where I can begin the process of finding the right agent, or firing off the Greatest Query Letter Ever Written. Writing comes first. I wouldn’t bother asking where’s the nearest Porsche dealership if I don’t know how to drive, would I? Well, apparently some people would.
To me, asking questions on how to get published, without having even written a single word, smacks of yet another misguided attempt by people to make a quick buck. Remember the whole “house flipping” craze; people buying dilapidated homes at 1/5th the price so they can renovated it and put it back on the market and turn a big profit, right? Yeah, well, how well did that work for a lot of people? Trust me, there’s still a few of those “flipped” houses still sitting in my area, unflipped and unsold. Why? Because those who invested in run-down homes learned very quickly that flipping a house isn’t as easy as Ty Pennington makes it out to be. It’s hard work, it’s back-breaking work, and unless you really the intricacies of getting a house up to code, the work’s not worth it.
We’re reminded of the self-publishing successes of Amanda Hocking and (*barf*) E.L. James, and that leads a lot of us thinking, “How do I get in on this motherlode?”As this article in the Guardian suggests, going the DIY route might not be so profitable after all. And if DIY isn’t going to rake in the millions you’re hoping to earn, then you better figure out how to get either one of the Big Publishing Houses or an indie press to publish your work. And this kind of mentality reminds me, again, of another cash grab. YOU CAN MAKE MILLIONS BY SELF-PUBLISHING YOUR NOVEL! Hooray!
But what if I can’t write worth a shit? WHO CARES? MONEY! MONEY! YOU’LL BE SWIMMING NAKED IN CASH! YOU CAN PAY SOMEONE TO WRITE FOR YOU!
(Let me pause for a moment here: I’m not bashing the self-publishing route. Several of my friends who are writers have taken this route at early stages of their careers. Just like a band that releases their albums on their own DIY label, many writers take this approach simply to get published. Again: to get published. Not to make millions. Or even hundreds of thousands. One of my friends told me he made enough money from self-publication just to pay for an editor. None of them are basking in glory or laughing all the way to the bank. Many of them have progress to where they’re represented by an agent, and have had their novels published. They know the process. I have many questions to ask them, but now is not the time.)
A writer I know very well told me the story recently of her guest appearance at a writer’s conference. She was invited to talk about the editing process, and after her talk, she penciled in 30 minutes for a Q&A session. The first question asked? “How do I get published?” When she informed the audience member that her question, although legit, wasn’t really appropriate for this session, nearly 3/4ths of the audience got up and left! Later, she overheard this, from a paying attendee: “This conference is a waste. How am I supposed to make money from writing?”
Really? You paid hundreds of dollars to attend a writer’s conference simply to learn how to get published? What about learning how to make your writing better? Survive the editing process? Huh?
I’m generally extremely mistrustful of anyone who undertakes an artistic endeavor solely for the purpose of making money. Listen, I don’t need Sally Struthers asking me, in her high-pitched, gin-soaked whine, if I want to make money. Sure I do, but I have more realistic goals.
What I really want is an ISBN number attached to something I’ve written, something that went through a painful yet exhilarating process, a process that questioned my sanity, and tried to break my spirit, a process that went through revision after revision after revision, and countless rejections and an agent that believed in me and a publisher that took a chance.
But first, I need to finish writing this goddamned novel!
(I also realize this slight diatribe seems somewhat hypocritical coming from someone that hasn’t been published yet. Go on, slam me. This comes across as bitchy. OK, fine. This is my corner of WordPressville, and I can be bitchy all I want.)